Posted in Professional Development

In Search of a Mentor

Last year at SQL Saturday Boston, I led a WIT panel over lunch titled “Models and Mentors” where we talked about role models and mentoring. There was a good variety of people in the room from those who were just getting started to those who were well established in their careers. One of the questions I had for the room was who had a mentor. Some of those who would be considered more established raised their hands. People who said they mentored others also said that they had mentors themselves. In some ways, I was surprised by this but in other ways, it’s not that surprising at all. Mentors aren’t just for people who are getting started but for those who want someone who can help them as they navigate their career and beyond. I was also surprised to hear of people who had multiple mentors. Again, I probably shouldn’t have been because different people have different strengths and the areas where you need mentoring can be different.

Speaking in the community is the place where I can say that I’ve had a mentor. This was someone who encouraged me to get started and submit to different events. They gave me feedback on my sessions. They also spent time listening to me and helping me as I struggled to put my ideas together while I was working through a new session. I was able to pay that help forward by mentoring someone for the New Stars of Data. She knew what she wanted to talk about and my goal was helping her pull it together – the same way that others helped me. I couldn’t be prouder of the job that she did.

Becoming a speaker has been one of the best things that I have done for my career. And I’m so grateful for those who have encouraged me down that path.

Other than that, I don’t think I have ever had an official mentor. I’ve gone to people for advice or talked through a problem and I’ve had people come to me for the same but I don’t know if there has really be an established mentor\mentee relationship for those situations.

When I think about my career as a whole, I may be at a point where having a mentor would be a good idea. I don’t think I’m at a major crossroad or career crisis. I just changed jobs so I am not job hunting. But I do have a lot going on where it can feel like I’m over-committed so it’s figuring out a better balance overall. I have a backlog of blog post ideas that I can never seem to find time to put together. Sometimes I can’t tell if I have goals for myself or just a whole bunch of things that I’m checking off my list to take advantage of all of the available opportunities that I can. Essentially, I probably could use a mentor who can help me objectively look at where I’m at and provide some guidance as to where do I go next.

Even tougher than figuring these things out on your own? Finding a mentor. There are so many people in the community that I admire and I think would make wonderful mentors. However, it feels awkward to go to someone and say “Hi, will you be my mentor?”

Luckily, Paul Randal (t|b) made it pretty easy. He is looking for a group of people to mentor through the end of the year. This is an incredibly generous offer to make, regardless of whether or not he is able to accept everyone who applies.

So I guess there’s one thing left to say: Hi, Paul – will you be my mentor?

UPDATE (2020-09-30): I’m a little late with the update, but guess who made the cut? We all win!


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